Enthusiasm for Life is Missing

From the moment I walked in the door I was struck by how still and unresponsive Bulldog Buster was.

He stood still and looked at me, in neither a friendly way nor an unfriendly way. Inscrutable.

The lady in particular has been doing all she can to liven him up and inject some enthusiasm for play but if anything, over the year that they have had him, the harder they try the more indifferent he gets.

Buster has no enthusiasm for walks either.

That is unless the walk starts by car. He loves the car.

There are just a few things that bring out the life hidden within five-year-old Buster in addition to the car. Where he is indifferent towards people calling to his house, he is positively pleased to see people he meets when out and greets them with enthusiasm.

When the lady or the gentleman come home, he greets them with some enthusiasm too. It’s all relative of course – but walking to the door to say hello is enthusiasm for Buster!

What also struck me as soon as I saw him was his size. I know that Bulldogs are broad, but Buster is carrying much too much weight and together with his Bulldog brachycephalic nose leading to difficulty in breathing, this could well be sapping his energy and enthusiasm for doing anything (he has been thoroughly vet checked)

The more lifeless Buster becomes, the harder his humans work at pleasing him.

Refusing to eat has even resulted in his raw food diet being hand-fed to him by the lady. When food is involved he may show some enthusiasm and this has resulted in lots of fattening extras.

Where is that enthusiasm and joy a that dog with Buster’s great life should exude?

He walks away when they get the harness out. When out of the front door he stands and sniffs and looks about and won’t move for ten minutes or so which will be resulting in a lot of cajoling. Fortunately they don’t force him but would love him to show some enthusiasm for walks.

He refuses to come down in the morning. He just wants to stay upstairs asleep

In the evening he will get one of his toys and suckle it, going into a sort of trance. It’s almost like he’s trying to escape the real world. I wonder why? His owners adore him and lavish him with everything they can think of but this doesn’t seem to be enough.

The seeds for his  behaviour must surely have been sown during in his life before he came to live with them a year ago.

Bulldog has little enthusiasm for lifeInstead of letting Buster spend nearly all the time sleeping, they now have a list of very short activities with which they can punctuate the day and evening.

They will sort out his eating habits. He can now work for some of his (carefully measured) food and should be more hungry. He can do fun things he likes like hunting games. He can forage for food sprinkled in the grass.

The harness can be put on and left on so it’s not associated with walks. In addition to his two walks – reluctant unless by car, Buster can regularly be taken just to stand outside the front door where he lingers for so long before being willing to walk. If he’s brought back in again before he’s decided he is ready to walk, it just might create a desire for walking!

He may be actually uneasy about the world outside the front door, it’s hard to tell, so this strategy should help. Before walking out, they can lace the environment around the doorstep with food which he can discover once outside.

The Rucksack Walk would be just perfect for Buster and for the lady – so desperate is she to find ways of engaging with him.

I instinctively feel that too much pressure is being put on Buster through the lady’s loving concern for him and in a perverse sort of way all the attention is sending him in the opposite direction. He is being lavished with things but nothing is actually asked of him in return.

I see a comparison between a person in rewarding work doing something useful and a person who has been out of work so long that his life has become meaningless. He may end up sleeping a lot of the time.

I hope, together with getting him into better physical shape, these are the missing links in unearthing in Buster the hidden enthusiasm for life most dogs have, resulting in him being more responsive to his loving humans.

 NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Buster. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)




Male Westies Started Falling Out

Milos is the more confident Westie


It took me a while to tell these two beautiful little dogs apart, but they are very different really. Milo is more nervous but more bossy, and Merlin is more confident but the bigger barker. Milo loves to be cuddled, but Merlin may grumble if touched or moved against his will.

Both are show dogs so they are entire. You can see how beautifully groomed Milo on the left is. The two used to play together and get on famously until, strangely, a few weeks ago their diet was changed. It was changed to raw meat, chicken wings, cooked rice and what should be an excellent diet. However, it brought out food aggression, especially over the chicken wings, and although they have been withdrawn things have never been the same since. With feeding ‘real food’, raw or cooked, it can be quite a responsibility getting the dietary balance right. It’s a known fact that too much protein can affect hyperactivity just as the additives and colourings in certain complete brands can.

All is not quite well in other respects though, so this was maybe just the catalyst. Both dogs have been obsessive lickers of carpets, sofas etc. As soon as there is any stress of any sort, they turn to licking in order to ease it – releasing the calming pheromones. It’s understandable to keep shouting at them each time they start, but we demonstrated while I was there that although they wouldn’t be distracted, by ignoring it they actually stopped a lot sooner.

The dogs are now growling at each other much of the time.  Milo eyeballs and controls Merlin. Merlin growls. Milo thenThe two Westies asleep together growls. They growl around the lady owner and around doorways. They are constantly ‘ready to go’ as soon as they hear something outside. Barking frantically they skid across the kitchen floor in a race to get to the back door first, resulting in a scrap when they get there. Again, shouting at dogs for barking makes it worse, they could even think you are joining in with more angry noise. It’s also unfair when the dogs are doing the job they have been given. Best is to relieve them of the job!

I suggest the dogs revert to their original diet seeing as it was working well. Having chosen the highest quality dry brand available, they should avoid all the extras which have no nutritional value and upset the careful nutritional balance. Everything should be done to keep the dogs as calm as possible.

When I ask people for a list of the things that stir their dogs up, it’s surprising just how many stressful, over-exciting or over-stimulating things can be cut right down or avoided altogether.

A month has passed by: “we have seen a vast improvement since we first saw you…… they played a little last week.  It was only for a minute or so but Milo was the one who instigated it, which made me really happy.  I haven’t seen them play together for so long, so it was really nice – made my day and showed that we are doing the right things.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.